How to get the best photos for your coaching business

How to get the best photos for your coaching business

Best photos for your coaching business

[su_spacer][su_spacer][/su_spacer]

I know, not everybody likes having their face plastered all over the front of their website. But unfortunately, if you are a coach, or a trainer or another helpful bod that sells their expertise, support and advice (you lovely people) you are the most important asset in your business.

Your coaching business lives or dies by the types of relationships you build with your crowd. Its character is built upon your own personality and view of life, the universe and everything. No pressure there then!

So what is the best way to get your personality across and to build this super trusting relationship with the people you would really love to work with?

As always a picture can say it all. But getting this all important photo of you being you can be a bit tricky to get right.

I’m sure you don’t want one of those wooden cheesy ear to ear grins with the manic look in the eye that shouts ‘just get it over with’ heading up your biz, or a blurry snapshot from a mobile phone taken on a night out with the girls (phones can take great photos but your lead image isn’t one of them). Strike a pose doesn’t really work for most people, unless you are a trained model and used to pouting on demand and feel at home in front of the camera. I’m not.

[bctt tweet=”The best sort of image of you for your website is of you just doing your thing.”]

If you are a talker, get photos of you talking, explaining, presenting. If you are a bit off the wall a silly hat or, in the case of Marie Forleo, a silly pair of specs, can sum up your approach to your work. If you get fantastic results for your clients and get them to dream big, show yourself thinking and imagining. If you achieve freedom and a better lifestyle or more money for your clients show yourself living the good life, laugh and raise a glass. If you are a great listener and support your clients through their journey then show yourself listening to somebody talk or make a connection with the person holding the camera and you’ll be inviting visitors to your website to communicate with you.

 

Still unsure how you are ever going to look half natural in front of the camera? Here are 5 design secrets to getting the best photos for your coaching business…

 

Bring your friends along.

I know this may seem like you’re inviting an audience to your performance but, as a coach, you don’t work alone, you are best when interacting. Get them to play the part of your client. Talk to them, listen to them and laugh with them and try to forget the camera is even there.

 

Get photos taken in different locations.

Setting the scene can really help your image. Not only does it increase the meaning of your image and show your audience a bit more about you and your life, but it can really relax you to be out of a stark photography studio, limited to standing against a blank wall in your house or in front of the only tidy space you can find at home.

Choose your locations wisely though, that graffiti wall might be very colourful and a great texture but might not be communicating the right things to your audience. Just go with where you hang out and where you love to be.

Have fun with it. I suggest a café location to finish so you can sample the cake. Good things always come of cake!

Dress it up

I don’t mean you have to be dolled up to the nines, but having a few of your favourite outfits to change into can give you a wider range of images to choose from. Choose something you are comfortable wearing but that really sums up your character. Something your friends would say, ‘ooh, that’s really you’.

Whether you are investing in some professional photography or getting a friend with a good camera to snap away, you’ll be really glad you have some different shots of you to use in your marketing. There’s nothing that says amateur than the same old photo being rolled out over and over again.

Use the background

As a designer one of the most frustrating things about working with photos is when they haven’t got enough background. Sure, you can cut it out, but it’s not easy and not for beginners.

Try to frame some of your photos so the main part of the action is sitting in 1/3 of the picture. When it comes to using your images in your marketing, you’ll often want to place text over it, so leave some room. It will save you a lot of heartache later.

Try to show a bit of your location, but you don’t want the background to look too busy. A shot focused on your face can keep the background out of focus so it doesn’t interfere with your portrait.

Find some images you love

Don’t be frightened to be bossy. It can really help your photographer (both of the professional and friend variety) to know what you are looking for.

Have a peep at some photography sites, other coaches’ websites or even some stock photos. Pay attention to the backgrounds, positioning, location and colours of your preferred images. It’s great to get inspiration and you are more likely to get something you love and will work for you and your business if you do a little homework first.

 

Enjoy the process. There is nothing like being the centre of attention for a day and having a bit of fun with your friends for bringing out the true you. Get the best photos for your coaching business and you will start to build those all important relationships – and that is what sells.

Google shocker

Google shocker

Don’t panic!

Today is “mobile-geddon” … apparently.

Google is changing the way it ranks websites in search results (again). Now your website needs to be mobile friendly as well as interesting and relevant. Makes sense, as mobile users have now tipped the balance and have overtaken desktop users – eek!

image

But what does this mean for your website? Will you have to rebuild the entire thing? Will you be left with NO visitors?

Probably not. Because the increase in mobile users is nothing new and web designers, theme builders and platform makers (the creators behind WordPress, Joomla and other content management systems) have been working on this for years. Chances are, your website is already mobile ready. Responsive website design has been top of the list for most new websites since 2013 and nowadays it’s even taken as a given that a website will be designed with all sorts of gadgets in mind.

What is responsive design?

Responsive design means that the nicely laid out grid your website is built into can move around and resize depending on what size screen it is viewed on. Handy! Most websites use this coding as it means that the lovingly designed website can be seen, read and makes sense on tiny mobile devices without having to be redesigned for every single gadget size.

Drag the corner of your browser in to resize a website page and you’ll see the boxes magically rearranging themselves. Clever stuff.

Is your website mobile friendly?

Google is playing nice this time and have taken some of the guesswork out of this. Scoot over to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and you’ll be able to enter your website address. Google will then analyse it to see if it is mobile friendly enough.

This is what it is looking at >>>

  • The text is too small to read
  • The content is bigger than the screen
  • The links are too close together
  • The mobile viewport not set (which means that your website doesn’t take account for screen size)
  • It’s slow to load

ARGH! Mine isn’t mobile-friendly!!

Well, now is a good time to change this. Let’s just see this as an opportunity to make your website more user friendly and up to date. More mobile users are now viewing your website than desktop users and you could be losing out on customers.

If you are using a content management system like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal go to your dashboard and see if you need to update your theme or the platform itself (remember to backup your website before pressing update). It might be that the latest version will be responsive.

Find out what theme you are using and look through the documentation for mobile support or responsive, you might have it turned off.

Consider changing your theme to a mobile friendly theme. Most new themes are designed with mobile devices in mind and swapping themes can be surprisingly simple.

Other helpful things you can do…

  • Check out the speed of your website … https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ You will be given some useful hints on how you can improve download times, such as optimising images (shrinking them down) and caching (the browser keeps a handy memory of your website so it doesn’t download from scratch every time) – good for everyone.
  • Make sure that your videos can be viewed on a mobile device, both Android and IOS.
  • Get your phone out and see what it looks like. You can also shrink the size of your desktop viewer to see how it responds to different scale screens. You want your customers to have a great experience on your website no matter how they view it.

 

You are beautiful – 3 secrets to creating the right image for your business

You are beautiful – 3 secrets to creating the right image for your business

You are the strength in your business, the central point that customers will interact with, connect to and buy from.

Last week I was looking for a call answering service for my husband’s osteopathic practive. This is the first time he has thought about doing anything online, he’s always had a receptionist complete with paper diaries and biros. But things have changed in the business and it’s to,e for different solution.

So I set off to find him a remote receptionist. Somebody friendly, knowledgeable and smily who can greet his patients who call in, book appointments and take messafes. But above all, he wanted somebody who he could trust to make a fantastic first impression for his business.

Brilliant, I thought, I know lots of VAs and there are some well rated award winning call answering services out there.

But the more I looked, the more confused I got. Many of the first links I clicked on took me to websites that just looked the same. Similar businessy branding, plain logo, a website name that was created to capture more traffic from the search engines and the same stock photos again and again. You’ve seen them … the pretty young smiling woman talking on a headset (to show they are happy and friendly), the goodlooking businessman with a newspaper and a strong handshake (to show they are for businesses) and the standard office white clock (obviously signalling the time saving element of the service).

Nowhere did I see the real, welcoming and personable receptionist I was looking for.

And then I hit website gold, a REAL PERSON!

This call answering company had taken the time to photograph their team at work and had dared to put a real life friendly face to their brand. The colours were welcoming and comforting and the copy invited me in as a value and important client, not just one of the many successful accounts they run. Our business needs were at the centre of their offer.

Needless to say, I gave them a call, had a chat and left the other call centres well alone.

So take a step back and take a good look at the imagery you use for your business.

Take a look at these 3 top tips to welcome your ideal customer to your brand through your business images

1. Your smile is worth more than any stock photo.

Customers are more likely to connect with you and your brand if they can see the passion you have for your business. You are business gold – so say cheese and head up your marketing. Worried that you have no good photos to show? Don’t make do with a quick shot on your mobile with dodgy lighting that makes you skin look yellow.

Consider investing in some professional shots, or for the more budget conscious find a friend with a good camera or even ring the local college and see if they have any budding photographers who want to practice in your office.

2. Choose supporting business images that will appeal to your ideal customer.

Don’t think about your competitors imagery, create your own and stand out for what you are best at.

Look at your ideal customer’s lifestyle – what shops do they love, what do they read, watch, how do they decorate their house. Even if you are offering business services to large corporates, you will be appealing to the head of purchasing or the head of HR – what are they looking for and what gets them excited? Looking like everybody else will do you no favours.

Take an element of their life, their problems and illustrate it.

For example: Say you are a VA who works with busy female mumpreneurs. They work at home, love to create a family space but feel the pressure of everything being a mess and not having enough time to sort it all out (this is SO me!)

You might want to show her how her business life is looking, how it could be and how you can help her.

medium_2293918820

From this

medium_6826209483

To this

medium_8602563827

And you’re the friendly face that makes it all possible

I found all of these very down to earth, genuine images through Photopin www.photopin.com.

Just type in some ideas in the search box – I typed in messy desk, tidy desk and smiling woman to get these shots. Just make sure you tick fine for commercial use on the left hand side and you are free to use the photos in your marketing. (NB: some photos might require accreditation, in which case Photopin gives you a handy link to attach to your posts.)

3. Set the mood and create a brand look using filters

This is a great way to tie your imagery together. There is some fantastic online editing software out there that makes it a doddle to create something very professional for your business. Take your images and pop them into Picmonkey, Canva or Pixlr and have a play with the filters.

You can create soft relaxing glows, give your images a hint of your brand colours or create something modern and edgy just by the press of a button.

I chose a lovely rose coloured ombre filter in Picmonkey to make the star face of the business look warm and friendly.

I chose a lovely rose coloured ombre filter in Picmonkey to make the star face of the business look warm and friendly.

 

The darker green / grey onmbre hue makes the messy desk seem even more depressing

The darker green / grey onmbre hue makes the messy desk seem even more depressing

All sorted! The rosy Ombre hue links the result to the rest of the imagery on the website

All sorted! The same rosy Ombre hue links the result to the rest of the imagery on the website

So don’t be afraid to be yourself, have fun with your business images and let your beautiful character shine through.

 

photo credit: Bright Meadow
photo credit: simon.carr
photo credit: Nina J. G.

7 Social Media Plugins to Supercharge your Blog

7 Social Media Plugins to Supercharge your Blog

Social media plugins for wordpressEver wish you could duplicate yourself to get more done?

I do. I’m a Mum, a wife and a business owner and it seems as if there is never enough time in the day.

My 6 year old daughter is better at working the tv box than I am. She confidently knows that she can record Peppa Pig, the horrible Barbie film and Finding Nemo at the same time as Daddy is watching the match. She taps a few buttons and it’s all done for her. Our tv box is now full to the brim of Peppa Pig but that is another story.

I am not so good with recording tv programmes but I am good at getting my blog to work harder for me using some easy to use plugins that do the work for me.

Here are my top 7 whizzy social media boosting plugins

1. Flare

This is a tremendous plugin for adding stand out share buttons on your blog posts. Search for the Filament plugin in your WordPress dashboard and install. Filament will then set you up with a Flare account and take you through the steps of installing it on your blog.

Visitors to your blog will be able to click the eye-catching icons to share, comment on or email your blog. And the easier it is to share, the more people will do it!

Share yourself
Sharing isn’t limited to visitors to your website. Press those share buttons yourself to post your blog to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Stumbleupon etc. It’s really quick and really easy.

2. Tweet old post

I love this plugin! Once you have a considerable number of posts you can use your blog to keep your Twitter account ticking over nicely. Set up the plugin to tweet your posts, plus #hashtags, comments, title or content every 4 hours. You’ll know that your Twitter feed will be constantly refreshed with great content. Perfect if your social network love lies elsewhere.

3. Inline Tweet Sharer

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Can you resist clicking links within text? I can’t.[/inlinetweet]
This little plugin will let you highlight quotable snippets of your post with a sharing link. Click the link and the highlighted text appears in a Twitter share box together with your favourite #hashtags, comments, attributions and a link back to the source.

You can even integrate it with your bitly account to shorten the links and monitor how much traffic you are getting with your quotables.

4. WordPress SEO by Yoast

I know, this is an SEO plugin … but it has a little known facility that is really useful for improving the expanded information on every Tweet, Facebook post and Google+ post from your website. These are known as Twitter cards, Open graph data for Facebook and Google+

You can change this ordinary Tweet

No Twitter Card Tweet Example
To this far more detailed Tweet

Twitter card example

In fact, you can add video, apps, photos, galleries, products, lead generation and websites AS WELL as the original 140 word Tweet, Facebook or Google+ excerpt. Read more here

Install the plugin, Go to SEO – social, and change the settings to include your username and description layout. Press save and you might have to apply and validate your request using your social media account details. But now, your automatic social media posts will be boosted with your tag, longer description of the post and even your featured image.

5. PopupAlly

Your visitors have read and enjoyed your wonderful post and perhaps shared the content – what action do you want them to take. This easy to use plugin will help you craft simple sign up boxes to automatically appear below chosen posts and pages.

You can even add a popup box to activate when they move to navigate away from your website or timed to appear after a chosen time. But these are like Marmite, people either love or loathe these so do some testing!

6. Shareaholic

Not just a sharing plugin, but you can add a related posts section below pages and posts to keep visitors interested in and reading your website. The longer visitors spend on your website, the more likely they are to buy.

7. Pinterest Pin it Button

Visual content is growing more and more important these days. People are 60% more likely to share images than textual content so make your images count. This handy little plugin inserts a pin it button on your blog’s images making it easy to share to Pinterest with one click.

You spend so long crafting your blog posts and getting the content just right for your ideal customer that you don’t want to risk this valuable information getting lost or misrepresenting your brand. These plugins will help to boost your content and build your brand through social media.

What social media plugins do you rate for your blog?
photo credit: Jon Pinder

Don’t buy a website!

Don’t buy a website!

But I need a website!

Every business needs a website!

Yes, I know, we all need to be online. Without an online presence we would be missing out on so many opportunities. Everything happens online. In fact, for the younger generations, their social life, entertainment and communication mainly happens online.

So yes, we need to be on t’internet, but it’s a very different beast these days and just buying a website is not an option.

What you need to buy is an online shop

And just thinking about your precious web space in this way will change the way you approach it and interact with it.

Man looking in at shop window

I get so many enquiries from people looking to buy a website for their business. They know they have to be online so people can find them and they have to explain what they do. And there it ends. This is the brochure site. A well designed poster for the business that customers can go and look at… but that’s it.

Instead, think about your web space as a shop. You need to constantly update your stock, talk to your customers, change the layout and the advertising, rearrange the shelving and deliver a personal service. And to do that, you need to be in control of your space so that you can update, change, rearrange and get more sales.

So here are 6 things you need to make sure you can control when buying your online shop:

1. Greeting your customers

You need to understand which door your customers are coming through. Are they landing on your blog or your home page. Are they coming from social media or google? Once your website has been set up you will need access to your statistics so you can visualise how people are moving through your shop and whether they are finding what they need.

2. Updating your products and services

You will need to constantly update your offer to attract new and keep old customers so make sure that you are buying a website that allows you to make changes quickly and easily

3. Adding new product lines

Online business is constantly changing. You will need to add more shelving and more signage so make sure you can add new pages and items to your menu that do your brand justice.

4. Advertising special offers

A new sparkly website is a wonderful thing, but you need to be able to update your brand and create new advertising across your shop and across social media and search engines. Getting your designer to create easily reusable backgrounds and elements to decorate your brand will make creating new promotions easy.

5. Rearranging your shop

Make sure that you have full control of your shop. You will have to move the shelving around at some point and you don’t want to have to wait for expensive website designers to get every little thing done for you.

6. Building relationships with your regulars

Understand how your blog and email software works. This is a powerful way of keeping top of mind with your customers and getting them to come back to your shop. You need to be able to update this yourself and personally interact with your customers.

photo credit: Alison Christine

Automate your social media through your blog

Automate your social media through your blog

social-media-makeoverWhen it comes to social media I suffer from indecision and stubbornness.

There are so many social media channels to choose from. We all have our favourites and my home is on Facebook. It took me ages to get the hang of it and to really embrace it for business and I am still a somewhat reluctant  poster.

For me, it is all to do with authenticity. Being reminded that I should post everyday doesn’t make it easy for me to do. When I do write something it needs to come straight from my heart, or nothing gets written at all. Which is why I write my blog at strange hours of the day. As soon as I get an idea I jot it down and let it grow naturally. Luckily for my blogging schedule, this does happen often so I don’t sit at the computer with the horrible ‘I must write a blog today’ feeling.

But when it comes to posting on my Facebook page, I know I must post witty or insightful, helpful or interactive quips, but often it just doesn’t feel authentic. And then I worry that I’m abandoning my Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn fans, followers and groups and I completely lose focus and end up posting nothing.

So I have learnt to take off some of the pressure to post and automate my WordPress blog to update my social media so it stays up to date and authentic. As always, there are some great out of the box plugins that can help to boost your social media presence with no effort from you. Yay!

Tweetable

This fantastic little plugin automatically tweets parts of your blog every few hours so you can capture the interest of your followers with great content. You can choose when to post, whether to post titles or content, add #hashtags and send followers straight to your website with traceable bitly links. All automatically!

Microblog poster

Super automate your blog. This plugin will look after your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and more) accounts. You can personalise your messages for each platform,  post to more than one account for each platform AND it doesn’t advertise ‘posted from Microblog’ at the bottom so it can be your little secret 😉

Shareaholic

Get your readers to share your posts and even submit them to social bookmarking sites. This handy little plugin covers like and share buttons, related posts (to keep your readers on your site), Classic Bookmarks, a Recommendations & Related Content tool, built-in Social Analytics, and official support for Google’s URL shortener as well as Google Analytics.

Hootsuite

Get it all done at once!

You may already use Hootsuite to post to your social media sites automatically but did you know you can link it to your blog feeds on your website without any extra work from you? Set up and account at hootsuite.com and input the social networks you want to post to (you can choose up to five on the free account!). You then just input the rss feed address from your website and it will automatically post your blogs to your social networks with your choice of timing, extra text and content.

There you go, one blog …. lots and lots of potential 🙂